Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Yotoden: Wrath of the Ninja

Genre: Martial Arts
Parental Guidance Recommended
1987 Takeshi Narumi (mangaka), Osamu Yamasaki (director), J.C. Staff

Yotoden DVDs
Everything Yotoden

Cover Description:
The year a comet races across the sky, splitting the heavens, from the depths of the Earth the dark god shall arise once again. Then, the dark evil lurking in the shadows shall come out of the depths of Hell and show itself in the present world. The emotions of the blade of the wind shall collect at the source of the blue light. And the three blades shall become one, vanquishing evil.'

The year is 1580, and the unholy armies of Lord Nobunaga Oda steadily spread across Japan. Narrowly escaping the slaughter of her clan, a young ninja steals into the shadows. She is Ayame, the last of the Kasumi clan, and the dagger she wields is one of three, mystical blades. She is joined by Sakon and Ryoma, renegade ninja and the possessors of the sacred sword and spear. Now, these shadow warriors must unite their weapons and skills to fulfill 'The Prophesy of the Enchanted Swords' or die trying...

Skysenshi's NOTE: The Yotoden saga, which is a 3-part OAV, has been condensed into a movie entitled Wrath of the Ninja.

You might mistake this for another Ninja Scroll rip-off... >>> by skysenshi

At first I thought this was another Ninja Scroll knock-off that had a cheap plot and even cheaper artwork. Well, the art isn't as dramatic as NS's, but this anime certainly has its own twists and turns that would make you feel that you had just finished a roller-coaster ride. One similarity that this title has with the other is that they both contain seven demons that our heroes have to battle with. These powerful demons work for another cause entirely -- one that would not fully be revealed up until the last minute.

What I liked most about Yotoden was the fact that even though the central characters are the three surviving ninjas of annihilated clans, the one that shines brightest is a kick-ass woman who struggles with her femininity and her obligation to avenge her family. There's also the effective use of so many subtleties, which can keep one wondering if there's something yuri going on or if the feelings of one person is actually deeper than he/she is showing. The action sequences aren't bad either, although they can be pretty short.

Now why did I give this an unsure rating? The pacing was fast. Too fast. You don't even have enough time to get attached to the lead characters, much less the supporters. But I guess this is all for the best, anyway, since it would be a bad idea to get attached to anyone in this anime. This has a conclusion that is quite similar to NS's, which had definitely incurred my wrath and had me screaming at my cousin Firesenshi for an entire day. While NS's ending left me weeping and depressed, this one only had me seething in frustration.

NOTE: The above opinion is more for Wrath of the Ninja: The Yotoden Movie. The series has all the missing details that would help get more insight into the characterization that was flushed out of the movie. All the more reason for me to be fuming because I fell in love with one of the main characters (*hint* he's the one who has the strongest sense of foreboding... in the end he was right after all). What's with Ninja Action genres anyway? Always giving us lousy endings....

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 7; Story 8; Characters 8; Sounds 7

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